tv Charlie Rose PBS October 11, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program, we begin this evening with a conversation about the washington negotiations over the debt ceiling and the budget. there was a big meeting today between the president and the house republican leadership. we do not yet know the results but we have a conversation about what the stakes were with jonathan martin of the "new york times," mike allen of politico and steve rattner, the finance year and writer. >> i think boehner himself won, that he actually got his caucus to a place but i think republican party are still the big losers here in terms of having been perceived to yes v created this mess in the first place. >> rose: the president the winner jonathan or he simply didn't not views in >> he survive but he got mix on him, too, charlie. there's no question his numbers have take an hit with that this on the heels with what happened with syria and you add the rollout of the affordable care act, it's not been a good couple
months for the president. i do think steve is right in the sense that boehner probably staved off a coupe. if boehner had brought off a clean bill to keep the government open i think he would have faced an insurrection on his hands so boehner lived to fight another day. >> rose: we conclude this evening with a new film getting a lot of attention called 12q9 years a slave." it is directed by steve mcqueen and stars michael fassbender and chiwetel ejiofor chit. >> at some point i wanted to make a movie that's labored and to me there was a whole in the cannon about this subject. it wasn't reference ed, it wasn't there for me. i wanted to sort of investigate that. i wanted to sort of find out about that in a way which wasn't sort of predicting all sort of putting away my stencil on this. >> rose: the political story in washington and a new movie called "12 years a slave. when we continue.
>> we are here. the government should be open. now we should be able to pay our debts and as we've said and will continue to say, we -- if that happens if-- will negotiate on anything, anything, and the president confirmed that today. >> rose: we begin today with a potential break through in the budget standoff. speaker boehner offered a six-week increase in the debt ceiling in exchange for opening negotiations on a long-term deal for tax reform and deficit reduction. >> so what we want to do is to offer the president today the ability to move. a temporary increase in the debt ceiling in agreement to go to conference on the budget, for his willingness to sit down, discuss with us a way forward to reopen the government and to start to deal with america's pressing problems. >> rose: boehner's proposal would not tend partial shutdown now in its tenth day, president
obama had said reopening the government was a pre-condition of negotiations. the president and house leadership met earlier this afternoon at the white house. joining me now are washington jonathan martin. he is the national political correspondent for the "new york times." with me in new york, mike allen, he is chief white house correspondent for political and editor of the capitol's must read "daily play book. qpts" and steven rattner, an author and wall street finance sere, helped turn around the auto industry in 2009. jonathan martin, let me begin with you, do you know anything as we speak at 5:45 eastern time we assume that cantor and baner are talking with the president about this deal. going into it, give us a sense of what you think -- where the party stood and what lines they had drawn and did the proposal which put them in the room seem
likely to create some kind of agreement so that the white house would be agreeing to this deal even though the president said no negotiations until you reopen the government? >> i think there's no question that today really offered the first glimmer of light since the shutdown. there was going to be some kind of deal cut. it looks like now that it's probably going to be on a debt ceiling, that it will be pushed back at least six weeks. six weeks until thanksgiving. still we're uncertain about what's going to happen on the actual reopening of the federal government. there's no question that today i think really offered an opportunity and what's fascinating now is that you've got the republicans in both chambers-- the house and the senate-- willing to give at least in the short term on the debt ceiling but the senate republicans also want to give on both. they really want to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling. >> charlie, what speaker boehner saw was this there was no
winning path where where from where he was. so he's trying to incemently move his guys to a better place. so over the last few days you see him talking less and less about obamacare. when they started to talk about entitlements, tax reform, bringing paul ryan back into the picture, that was moving more into a winning position and charlesedly way this deal is going to be cut is over the definition of the words clean and negotiate. what can you tack on to a clean bill which is what they had wanted as far as promises about future talks and not violate that and when the white house says they won't negotiate but they are. >> sure, look, the white house is having a meeting right now and that's a form of negotiation so obviously white house is going to talk about this. i think what's interesting is that the hard right that boehner has been so worried about for the last several weeks seems to have given him enough run ty do this six-week extension, that even they-- or enough of them,
anyway, have realized they were heading for pro serb y'all political cliff and about to go over it. >> rose: clearly the markets have reacted to this news. they were up 300 points or so. >> over 2%, 300 points on the dow. the market has been increasingly worried about this situation. it looked for a while as mike was implying that it was intractable that republicans are asking for things on the affordable care act that there was no way the president was going to give. >> it had been so obvious for so long that he wasn't! that was what frustrate sod many republicans. >> sure, but when you read what some of these regard right republicans that have been saying, some were saying that a default would be a good thing and that we'd live within our means and completely crazy things. so in the last few days the markets have been increasingly nervous when you look whereat treasury bills have been going where the cost of insurance on u.s. government debts were going we were heading for a bad place. >> rose: jonathan? >> i was going to say what is so remarkable about the last 272
hours is how obamacare has been -- disapyred, to borrow the old soviet phrase. it's one of those lenin era pictures where they rub out of the photo the first they don't want to see in the photo. this notion that that was the central issue has really fallen in the memory hole starting, i think, with that paul ryan on ned the "journal" and ever since then you don't hear about it at all from a lot of conservative folks in the house and certainly not in the leadership. they want to get this on a more favorable terrain which is long-term spending. >> rose: let me understand this. as part of what boehner recommended, the negotiations to take place between the preponderate the if the debt ceiling is extended -- >> negotiations, charlie, these are conversations, these are talk it is. >> rose: they're not negotiating. >> no. the president won't negotiate. >> rose: is anybody saying that obamacare funding will or will not be on the table in the talks we're something from >> obamacare fund willing not be -- in my opinion obamacare fund willing not be on the table in
any direct sense of the word. there will be no delay, no defunding. >> rose: so he will not be accuse odd giving in on obamacare. >> however, when you get into entitlements-- which the republicans will want to get into and which i think we should get into-- health care broadly speaking will be on the table in some form of fashion but not obamacare. >> and the question is, can the congressional republican leadership use what steve is talking about as a fig leaf? if they can get something on -- you know, anything related to long-term health care spending, will that give boehner some kind of cover to sell to his most conservative members as we did something about this issue. it may not have been own care per se. that to me is the big question tse can he find some kind of cover with what steve is talking about. >> rose: one sign of what this is by republicans is they're going to need a lot of democratic votes to do it which they originally had not wanted to d. i'm told that this will get 120 republican votes, they'll need 100 democratic votes so that's why they have to
have both ends of pennsylvania, both chambers going along with it. to pick up on jonathan's point, the incredible irony of this mess for republicans is they had not gotten in the shutdown situation, if they'd not gotten into a default countdown, the botched rollout of obamacare-- one of the worst product rollouts you can imagine-- would have been a much bigger story. >> rose: all the air was sucked out by the discussion by the shutdown. >> mike is completely right about that. but let's also-- as we sit here celebrating the stock market going up and the debt-- let's not get to sanguine about this situation. because now you've still got -- you've kicked the can six weeks down the road. you've still got very hard choices. republicans have put no ask on the table other than the obamacare which is gone we don't know what they want on deficit reduction. we don't know know about what the president prepared to do. but the president said there's no deal without revenues. boehner said there's no revenues
so you've got that. >> rose: does that have to dedo with no elimination of deductions as a source of rev. >> rose:. >> that's a semantic question as to whether the republicans can convince themselves that getting rid of deductions and not revenue is tax reform. >> charlie, very important asterisk to too old this conversation is that the white house hasn't accepted this yet. it looks like -- they haven't rejected it. it looks like they'll go along with it but we saw the senate democratic leader harry reid today saying there wouldn't be talks until the government is reopened. right now republicans are contemplating of doing this avoiding default, they tell me from all over the country, they tell me they are not feeling pressure to reopen the government. >> i agree with that. there's no way the white house is not going to accept an extension of the debt ceiling no matter what else. >> the question is will they go along -- >> there are going to be talks. >> rose: and they don't mind talking about entitlement reform anyway, do they? >> up to a point.
>> rose: they don't mind saying flatly come out of the white house but they will talk about entitlement reform because -- t count rip is concerned about the issue of debt and entitlement reform. >> and businesses very much so. >> the country is concerned about it however 70% of tea party members don't think medicare should be changed. so there's a disconnect between the country saying they have to deal with entitlements, deficit, the debt. >> but don't touch my medicare! >> rose: it's the famous line during the campaign when somebody said "don't you let the government touch my medicare!" (laughter) so we see what comes out of this. on the broader question of who won and who lost, boehner wins in this or boehner lose this is because he got his party to recognize that it was going down into a very bad place that might cause a huge division that they may not recover from not only by 2014 but by 2016. >> just emphasize this is one battle and a big war. this is not the ultimate
victory. i think boehner himself won, the that he actually got his caucus to a place but i think the republican party are still the big losers here in terms of having been perceived to have created this in the first place. >> rose: subpoena the president the win, jonathan, or he simply did not views in >> he survived but he got mix on him, too, charlie. no question that his numbers have taken a hit with this on the heels of what happened with syria and you had a rollout of the affordable care out that has not been a good couple months if for president. i think steve is right in the sense that boehner probably staved off a coup. if boehner had brought up some kind of a clean bill to keep the government open i think he would have faced an insurrection on his hands so boehner lived to fight another day. so me what's going to be fascinating is how this plays out in the midterm elections next year and what kind of damage the republicans face. their brand in the gallup survey is down to a serious low.
i think 28% of the country approves of republicans. so can they recover in time next year to win back the senate? can they still hold the house? the longer, longer term issue, though, is what this does for the brand among moderate folks in this country who see the republicans represented by, you know, hard-line conservatives like ted cruz. how do they recover? how do they come back as a party and make themselves relevant again on a national level when a lot of people in this country see them remitted by some voices that are fairly strident. >> and that's the problem is this isn't going to change. one of the republicans very worried about 2014 and 2016 said "the problem we have is that people calling the plays from our side are from texas and utah when they need to be from the suburbs of philly." >> rose: does ted cruz come out a winner this? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely. >> rose: because he has some claim on the right of the
republican party? >> he's a senator who's been there for nine months, is wildly popular with his base. his name ild in states well beyond texas is through the roof. he's created a niche for himself in the senate and if he wants it he could parlay this i think to run for the presidential nomination. the question to me with cruz is how long can this last? can he sustain this? the scrutiny he will get on a presidential campaign is far different than what he's gotten here so far and it will be coming much more intensely from his fellow republicans. if the he think he is had it bad now at the senate luncheon, wait until he runs in iowa and new hampshire and starts getting elbows from folks like chris christie and scott walker. >> jonathan is completely right. he elevated himself on to the national stage but i think he's a meteor, i think he's a sarah palin figure with a brain that's going cascade across the cosmos for a while and then ultimately become a fringe element of the party. i don't think his party wants
him and rubio may go down with him before in is over. >> rose: because of his immigration -- he's run right towards him. the tea party. twhoops the tea party? >> the tea party is emboldened. the tea party is stronger and we hear again and again about tea party candidates announcing or people worried that they're going to get the tea party. so we've been asking is the tea party a mood or a movement? it's clearly a movement and it has staying power. >> rose: what does this do for the remainder of barack obama's second term? it is going to be one little crisis after another? the question of syria, iran, israeli/palestinian. is the idea of this president having some bold new initiatives gone and he will rise or fall on these negotiations and what happens to obamacare? >> it's much more -- democrats are very concerned that he already looks like a lame duck. this was part of the problem in
not having a specific muscular agenda for the second term. so what they hope is that there will be some of these fiscal ends will be tied up. that the affordable care act will start to look more like a suck suss which almost certainly would. doesn't look like there will be imgragt. you'll hear people argue maybe it can get done in 2015, we think it's more likely to be done in 2017. the president's legacy is going to be very much about the first term. >> rose: i wonder though when they look at that whether he should have bought into the grand bargain at that time. >> he tried buying into the grand bargain. (all talking at once sglchld well, folks would like thief moment back. but i would only take issue slightly with mike in that i think president had a muscular agenda, the problem is you cannot get anything done on capitol hill. the last congress passed half as many laws as any previous congress in modern history. this one is on track to pass fewer. but he'd love to get immigration and dun control done and i think he'd love thief moment back and
get fiscal reform done. he has plenty of things he wants to. do you can say he can't get it done -- >> rose: the point is whether all these oh things have taken all the air of the activity for the next remainder of this term. jonathan? >> that's the challenge is that here we are, it's pretty much mid-october this was going to be the time where the house maybe got immigration, instead we'll be wrestling with this debt ceiling issue until thanksgiving. that gets you to the holidays and then you mere in 2014, charlie, and that's the midterm campaign. for my money, this president's second term is going to rise and fall on what happens in the midterm election next year. if the republican brand is so damaged that democrats can overcommagerry manering, find a way to take back the house, keep the senate, and if that's the case, president obama will have a final two year period or at least the final year and a half to maybe get immigration done, perhaps climate change and perhaps guns. >> rose: that's what he's hoping for, a strong win in the 2014
elections. >> absolutely. look at the calendar. very soon here we're going to be at the first of the year and as you guys know it's tough to get anything done on the hill in not election years let alone election years. >> jonathan, just a couple weeks ago you and i would have said it was impossible for democrats to take the house. where are you on that now? >> i think their prospects have definitely gotten better given the republican for global brand. i think it's still an uphill fight for democrats because of how those are drawn but i think it looks better now than a month ago. >> rose: let me finally tern to you on janet yellen and what that means about any changes in the fed and its policy toward interest rates and the economy. >> janet yellen has been part of the fed on and off for several decades ahead of the san francisco fed, vice chairman of the federal reserve board as a whole. she's voted every single time with ben bernanke and in favor
of his policies. there is certainly going to be nuances of differences between how she thinks about life and how bernanke thinks about life. people think she may be more "dovish," a little more worried about unemployment and less worried about inflation. i think these changes will be very much at the margin. i think you're going to continue to see the fed operate very much as it has. one thing that may be different is she may be -- bernanke tried to move the fed toward more transparnsy, he wasn't always completely successful and i think you'll see her try to do more of that which will be a good thing. >> rose: and then there's hillary clinton. should she -- she doing the smart thing by simply saying "i'm out of politics right now, don't get me involved in this "? or should she be adding her voice to this debate and saying -- go ahead, jonathan. >> no, i was going to say she's not totally out of politics. she's still giving speeches. i think you're going hear from her much more here. she has been quiet. you're right she has been quiet in the last few weeks on the
shutdown and the debt ceiling issue but i think you'll hear from her more and more. she cannot sort of sit at home in westchester and relax in front of the t.v. as steve well knows. she has a passion for politics and as a policy and i think you'll see her more and more talking about the issues of the day and i think 2014 will be very telling to see what other democrats do. the martin o'malleys, the andrew cuomos. are they going to go forward with their own campaign if they see her out there more and more? >> but there's worry among democrats that she's going to wait too long to decide. she'll be out there talking but they're very worried she's going to try to stay out of technical politics for a long time and that leaves space for a senator elizabeth warren of massachusetts, someone who would be a threat the to get in. >> rose: she's the liberal threat as obama was in 2008. >> i think hillary clinton is going to try to draw a fine line, whether she succeeds or not i can't say and try do her policy stuff more under the guise of the foundation and more
outside of washington than getting involved in the mosh pit of what piece of legislation happens to be -- >> rose: so when she thinks her voice has a strong -- >> rose: >> i think she'll stay out of whether we should change the social security c.p.i. index or that kind of thing. i think she will wait, as she did last time, until after the 2014 midterms. >> rose: what do you think her issues will be other than women? >> she's very -- i mean, i know she's very focused on a question that make was eluding to which is jobs and kills and sort of a lost generation of young people who may not be able to find employment and what we do about it. but the way she's thinking about it is not so much let's go pass a bill in congress but what are the kinds of things the clinton foundation can do domestically along the lines of what is done internationally to try to develop ideas for how to solve these problems. >> i think bill and hillary clinton follow politics very
closely. they see that there is a rising populism in the democratic party that issues of economic fairness and economic inequality are the signal issues for a lot of liberal activists and i think you'll see her address those issues more and more as time goes on. >> she was on the wrong side of that in '08, won't make that mistake twice, they're being very intentional about that. >> rose: thank you, jonathan. thank you, steve. >> rose: we'll be right back. stay with us. >> all i know weapon keep on traveling and we're going to die trying. >> surviving is not about certain death. it's about keeping your head down. >> they've been my family and my home. >> rose: "12 years is a slave" is a new movie by steve mcqueen, the story of solomon northup, a
free man from new york who was abducted and sold into slavery from 1841 to 1853. richard corliss of "time" magazine calls the movie a document that is raw, eloquent, horrifying, and essential. here's the trailer for "12 years a slave." >> i want to ask you what part of the country you come from. >> i originate from canada. now guess where that is? >> i know where canada is. i've been there myself. >> well traveled for a slave. >> solomon northup is an expert player on the violin. >> i was born a free man. lived with my family in new york. until the day i was deceived. kidnapped, sold into slavery. >> well, boy, how you feel now? >> my name is solomon northup, i'm a free man. >> you have no right whatsoever. you're no free man.
you're nothing but a georgia runaway. ♪ way down to the river jordan >> that servant that don't obey his lord shall be beat within many stripes. that's scripture. the condition of your labor, it's all wrong. >> they're my property. >> you say that with pride. >> i say it as fact. >> man does how he pleases with his property. you come here. i said come here! >> days ago i was with my family in my home now you tell me all is lost. >> if you want to survive do and say as little as possible. >> i'm gonna survive. i want to live. >> i thought you knew something. >> did as instructed. if there's something wrong, it's wrong with the instruction. >> that will earn you a hundred lashes. >> i know what it's like to be the object of master's lash. in his own time the good lord
will manage them all. >> i will survive! i will keep myself until freedom is opportune! >> i was a free man! >> rose: joining me now is the director steve mcqueen and two of the film's stars, michael fassbender and chiwetel ejiofor chit. i am pleased to have them at this table and i begin with you. tell me about the story and how you got it and what you wanted to do with it because it's a true story. >> well, it started possibly when -- i was asked the question recently, a question i'd never been asked before. when did you first encounter slavery?
and i can never remember. as a child, as a person, all i could remember if anything was a sense of shame, a sense of, you know, embarrassment, really. and i think at that stage, you know, in life as a child you start off immediately asking questions about your environment because of that starting point. anyway, fast forward. at a certain point i wanted to make a movie about slavery because for me there was a whole in the cannon about this subject. it wasn't referenced, it wasn't there for me. i wanted to sort of investigate that. i wanted to sort of find out about that. n a way which wasn't sort of pre-predicted. all sort of putting my stencil on this. but actually finding out, investigating it. and what happened was i had this idea of a free man living in the north but who was pulled into
slavery. and what happened was i was with my wife and she said to me "why don't you look at true accounts of slavely. " okay. and we both looked and researched and she found this book and this book "12 years a slave." she said to me "i think i got it." and it was so fascinating when i had in the my hand i was turning over the pages in the book and every page was a revelation. how do i not know this book? but then i realized all the people i knew didn't know this book. i live in amsterdam. what was interesting for me reading this book is it read like anne frank's diary, the first-hand account of slavery and then i made it my foogs sort of make that book into a film. >> rose: you were intrigued by the idea that this is going from freedom to slavery rather than most stories go from slave troy emancipation. >> yeah, but also most people --
i would say most people, a lot of people don't know that 10% of the population of african americans at that time were living free in the north. >> rose: and how many of them were taken into slavely. was this a singular -- >> there's no number because after a certain date when slavery was abolished -- bringing slaves from africa was abolished. and before that they'd take kids and people would be taken from the streets. >> rose: and so you went and found a story. what do you do then? >> then i went with john ridley on the script and then i -- at the same time, plan "b," a guy called jeremy kleiner and brad pitt who was the head of the company -- >> rose: the production company. >> they were involved. they wanted to work with me and they were very passionate about working with me and i just took advantage of their passion and their talent and we proceeded to sort of make the film.
>> rose: cost about $25 million? >> less. $21 million. >> rose: made in the louisiana? >> yes, in 35 days. >> rose: some at some point you've got to have actors, right? >> yes! (laughter) so therefore you go in search. now, you and mike have this thing. michael's talked about it at this table. do you first think about him when you think about a movie? "what's michael's role in this film?" >> yes, i do. it's kind of weird and i don't mean in the a -- it's never -- you know what? it's just been very fortunate that everything that i wanted to make he's been a part of. i've been very fortunate about that, to have him involved in the work. and it's fortunate that he fits the part. so it's not preemptive, it's not preordained it just happens. it's not forced. that's what makes it for me beautiful. >> rose: what does he say about the character epis? >> well, first of all, i think we talked about it, actually,
when we were doing a press junket for "shane." steve was like "i want to make a film about slavery and this is the story." and i was like, wow, that sounds interesting. seems like that right thing to do for sure. and then i got a script several months later but you never i never presumed that i would get -- that steve would offer me a part. i just read the script and it moved me to tears by the end of it and i called him up and i was look like, i want to be part of this. having read it i was like, oh, i'd like to play epps but i didn't for one minute presume it was a shoe-in. i just said to steve "i want to be part of it. one day's work, two day's work, this is a great story, it's an important story." then steve was like what do you think of the character epis? and i was like well, this is an amazing part. >> don't look in his direction. continue on. >> found it, master, brought him
back, just as instructed. >> rose: what'd you just now tell? what'd you say? >> no words were spoken, none of consequence. >> you're a liar. you're a damn liar. i saw you talking. i saw you talking. tell me. >> i cannot speak of what did not occur. >> master -- >> you come here! i say come here! >> i >> i brought her back just like you told me! >> come here! >> master -- >> i got her just as instructed. the >> stay away from that, boy. that's right.
>> rose: tell me how you saw epps the character. >> well, i think through steve's guidance at the beginning i knew that he wanted me to play him -- well, that the core of the character was in the love affair--s if that's the right way to put it-- with patsy. his love for patsy. >> who was a slave. >> who was a slave on his plantation and his sort of lack of intellect and i guess sort of substance as a person to deal with it. he can't process it and so he sets about trying to destroy her in the hope that it will destroy that feeling that he has towards her. and, you know, steve was speaking about him as a very sort of flawed human being, never really as somebody who is a terrible slave owner. so from the get-go i knew that he wanted me to find in a way an
people think with a character in the right way. i think the great thing about steve is he portrays them in all his films the characters that are perhaps less likable without judgment or with great understanding and even from the outset i think steve is talking about epis with this considerable amount of sympathy in terms of him being a victim in a way of it will time in itself as well. >> rose: explain what you mean by that. you found him as a victim of a man who could not understand anything beyond property? >> i think epps is a -- a human being first of all, just like everyone at this table. there are young slaves. he doesn't understand how he, a slave owner, a white slave owner, is in love with his slave his black slave. there's a passion there which love is this thing which, you
know, it decides, you don't decide. and his dealing with that is classic. it's a classic tragedy in a way and he's a human being within that. so you know you can't patriot him as some kind of one dimensional character. he is a human being like us all and that's interesting. that's fascinating. i wanted to investigate that character. >> rose: so now you have to have someone to play solomon northup, right? >> he's the only choice. he's like sidney port yay, harry belafonte, there's a class, dignity. >> rose: dignity was a key word for you? >> absolutely. >> rose: to show dignity going from freedom to slave? >> he has to maintain that journey. he has to maintain that humanity within the inhumanity and i thought chiwetel was the only person who could do that.
>> rose: how did you see him? this character? he had dignity but at the same time is in the worst of circumstances to be treated and at the same time never lose the dignity in the face of -- >> yeah, i think he just -- there was something that i felt was about an essential quality he had as a person. the first time i read the script i didn't even -- i saw in the a way as a kind of story of this kind of incredible story, this incredible narrative. i didn't see solomon the first time. i saw story of a man who goes through this experience and it was really later on and reading the book as well that he -- that i realized it's a story about him. about this specific person going through these moments and i think it was trying to get as close to him as possible that was the kind of revelation for me about the story, about his own personality and that the
choices that he made were kind of unique to him and that journey and those are the reasons he was able to survive. it ended up with me feeling that he was just a very special man and i think his book is a reflection of that and just his attitude of the world, attitude to his circumstances >> think of the following thing but it's not the same but it's true. when nelson mandela was freed he insists his jailers sit in the front row and it is said that when he was at -- on the island that they had an enormous amount of respect for him. there was a dignity that all -- 27 years on robbens island could not, never did destroy. and there is a sense that you have to have -- you have that and michael's character knows that. epps knows that, isn't that right, michael? he knows and feels that this guy
is not like anybody else. >> absolutely. and you know that was -- it's interesting because i was thinking of that when steve was describing chiwetel. on set when we were doing the scenes, that was something that i found in the scene and sort of when we were playing i was like there was something that chiwetel brought to the character and has naturally which is a poise and like steve said a dignity and an intelligence thatsy realized very quickly playing epis that he was threatened by him and that there was something about him that he couldn't understand (while he's the slave, i'm the master, why does he have something on me? there's -- >> rose: that he can't understand. >> that he can't understand. and so again he tries to sort of push him down and tries to belittle him and degrade him because his fear. he's frightened by him. he's threatened by him. >> rose: what do you want to bring to this film that no other
film about slavery has produced beyond the fact that it goes from -- in fact there was an earlier version of this wasn't it done by gordon parks or somebody? >> i think he did it in 1986. >> you wanted us to know, though, in the most graphic terms what it meant to beat another person that you owned. >> yeah, i think, you know, it's -- either we're making a film about slavery or we're not and if we're making about a film about slavery we have to talk about how people kept slaves. what's the rules, what happens? why were they kept slaves for such a long period of time? so therefore we can't turn our backs on it and you know it's a part of the world's oldest country and i think one has to sort of look at it and examine it and judge oneself on how far we've tom together. >> rose: what did you learn about slavely. >> well, i've discovered
something that is odd to say. i discovered love. i discovered this huge, huge thing and that's why i'm here today. a survivor of slavery. i -- it's called survival. i discovered within that pain, between obvious there's this huge thing called love. it's an interesting word "love," love is crippling when you tell someone sometimes that you love them they crumble and that's why -- i learned to embrace something. >> rose: this is the love of epps for patsy? or largest love. >> it's a love which is about survival. you'd do anything for your child. i'd do anything for my child. what you want to do for your child is survive and prosper and that's solomon. and all the people who are survivors of slavery. >> the love of life.
>> i don't want to survive. i want to live. >> it's funny, actually, as well after the screening in tell you ride, toronto and now here what's kind of palpable in the auditorium afterwards is that feeling. >> rose: of love? >> yeah, and i think people sort of'm brasz embracing like strangers sitting together holding each other's hand at the end of the film and it's pretty powerful that feeling, i think, to be in the auditorium at the end which i didn't sort of expect. i just felt it the first time i saw myself in tell you ride together inness and a willingness to do loving things for one another and help each other whether it be a neighbor, a friend, or a stranger. >> rose: the other thing that's interesting here to be -- not only to lose your freedom but also to lose the things that that that have shaped your life, like music. music was important to solomon. >> absolutely. >> rose: you see that in the
trailer. >> yeah, he's a musician and he has -- you know, it's that side of him. he has that connection to his violin and i think that's the kind of part of his wider outlook, this is somebody who has this deep joy in life. i think that's part of one of the keys to his character is that he can't -- even in and amongst these circumstances he doesn't hate. and i think that that is a crucial part of his survival. >> rose: he doesn't hate because hate would destroy him? >> he doesn't hate because hate is not useful. >> rose: and it will destroy him as well, maybe. >> he's a man in a battle for his survival, for his mind. and hatred is not going to help you. >> that's not to say he isn't tested. he is, to the extreme limits.
>> rose: and what does this do to sol mop? the fact that he went through this experience? >> it's a very strange ending. he's gone but who does he leave behind? we're talking about 400 years, not 12 years. >> rose: slavery he left behind. >> absolutely. absolutely. i mean, he's forever changed by tex perns but what would you learn, you know? when you read his biography he has this extraordinary depth, spirit, soul, understanding of life and people, of what these systems are. what human dignity is, what human respect is. there are extraordinary circumstances to be in which you wouldn't wish on anybody but, of course, i think that somebody like solomon comes out of that with taking away from him with
these extraordinary feelings. >> and what he does is get involved with the abolitionist mutual, with the underground railroad, he does lectures throughout the northeast of the united states of america about slavery. he gets involved in doing something to try and bring this holocaust to an end. >> rose: there's also the rape scene. what are you thinking as an actor? >> well, you know, always aware that that scene's coming up, you know? and that's -- that it's going to be disturbing, upsetting at the time. i'm filming it but also trying to find -- you know, there's so much going on in that scene it's almost like -- you know, to just deal with it in a -- i don't know. in a complete way as opposed to just being again something that
obviously happens a lot to patsy but to show the complexity of the relationship in something that can be sur so violent like that and there's almost a moment of tenderness in it when he's trying to communicate and immediately shut it is door and then it's back to this sort of violent pattern because, again, he knows, you know, as well so much that not only his sort of confusion in this relationship and how he's allowing himself to be feeling these emotions but also that he knows that she finds him probably repulsive and so there's just a lot of things going on there. there's a lot of complexity going on but i never know what's really going to happen on the day. i just try to be sort of calm and relaxed and focused and open to what's happening at the time. >> rose: tell me about casting patsy. >> well, that was -- that was --
what was that like? that was a tremendously difficult. we cast over a thousand girls. excuse me, we saw over a thousand girls. it felt like it, anyway. it was a battle. >> rose: you were looking for what are? >> i was looking for this girl who was beautiful -- beauty in a way and just something out of -- i don't know. a little bit out of -- out of this world somehow. it was difficult. i mean, you know, i can't find the words right now. >> rose: when you saw lupe did you know? do all directors snow >> oh, yes, absolutely. >> rose: that's it? >> i couldn't believe it because you know when you want something and you don't think you're going to find it and you're going crazy and you see it and she came in to do an audition and
that was it. she's amazing. >> rose: and she does in the a way, i assume, that even helps you understand what it is you wanted more than you knew you wanted. >> listen, i'm having a difficult time talking about it as you can see and that's because i can't believe that she exists. >> rose: roll tape. this is a scene between epps and patsy. >> i went to master's. >> you admit it. >> yes. freely. and you know why? i got this from mrs. shaw. 56700 bales of cotton day in and day out, more than any man here and for that i will be clean. that's all i ask. just this here is what i went to shaw's for.
>> she was just amazing. >> rose: what did she have? what is it about the patsy that you -- >> it was this grace. this grace. this grace. under the worst circumstances one could imagine, think of. you hatch it, you throw it on the floor but still it shines through. it was just marvelous, marvelous >> i was just thinking, you know we did rehearse that scene, it was the first time that we've -- did a scene together, the lieu pita and myself and she just came into the room and you could see -- >> she was amazing. >> i could see her past life coming into the room. i could see her in the car worrying about the scene, preparing herself. she'd obviously been sort of
preparing all morning for it and she came to that rehearsal space ready to go and with brave choices and went for it and i just remember kind of looking at you two and then it was like, question've got our work cut out. it's something beautiful about that -- something hungry and new. >> rose: is there an evolution in his character as -- while he's held? does he change? >> yeah. i mean, i think he starts off as a man who is in -- who believes that he's in a battle for his freedom. but he comes to realize that he's in a battle for his mind and that's the point of change for solomon. that's the kind of understanding what the environment can do to him. and i think that's the sort of psychological kind of warfare, the psychological drama of it all sfwchlt. >> rose: and he's able to lash her back because he has to do
that for survival? >> well, yeah, yeah. >> rose: that's either life or death. >> life or death. there is a direct threat. i think that in that circumstance, in epps' plantation they are pushed beyond what is even to them normal. with and as solomon writes about that day which he considers to be one of the darkest days in the history of mankind, that's what he talks about that. even in that circumstance even in that depth of hell this was something even more. even more remarkable for them. if you're being rotten in louisiana they call you an epps. you're being an epps because of this character. >> the danger as well that he would go all the way to killing. in a way it's the unpredictable behavior at the epps plantation that makes it so much more terrifying because steve, up to that point, has shown the normality of the abnormal. the way that people are being
treated but it's kind of a norm. and you see the scene where chiwetel is hanging and all the slaves go about their daily business because this is their daily work. >> rose: and that's also about survival, isn't it? this is the guy that can survive and be so easy to let go. >> the yeah, absolutely. the what's said about the hanging -- >> rose: what did he say in. >> he says he would have given more years of servitude if they had only moved him a few feet into the shade. i mean, that's extraordinary. and that's what i mean by when you start to see him, when you start to see his mind, the way he looked at the world, that's when you begin to realize there is something completely unbreakable about this person. >> and the way any time it could happen, people living in
situations where one day someone could be strung up and the next day they could be made to dance. anything could happen. that's the hell they were living. >> rose: what do you hope this movie will change? >> what i would love is that people could -- i mean, for me -- it's like anne frank's diary. i want people sort of -- "12 years a slai" should be in every store. it should be in every store as sort of required reading. just as anne frank's diary because it's a firsthand account of slavery and it's an amazing book. >> rose: without brad pitt there would not have been any movie. >> no. none at all. none at all. >> rose: and he wanted knob the movie in >> yes, he did. he's a great actor so, hey, guess that? i get two for one. so it's one of those things in the plan "b" -- >> rose: what was it about the
story? why is it he wanted this story told? what conversation have you had with brad pitt? >> we had a long conferring in london and i think he said, yes, why isn't there -- why hadn't there ever been a film about slavery at that time. this is before "jiang go" other than a major sort of event like "roots" and that was it for him. it was sold but yes, we should actually make this film. >> rose: is every experience different with him for you? or does it have a certain. >> rose: after we did "hunger" together i was worried. i started thinking was that a one off. is it going to be like that? because we became sort of close and it was an amazing experience from me and i learned so much from steve but it was like
picking up from where we left off and with sean bob bit and it was just like we picked up and again on this it was the same thing. it was like we picked up where we left off and there was an easiness and an understanding, i think, it was main thing. >> rose: you're working with terence malick next? >> i've worked with him already, yeah. >> rose: finished it. and the film will be coming -- >> no idea. (laughter) >> rose: and you? >> well, we'll see. i'm just sort of, you know, taking my time, i think, and -- i mean this has been such a -- sort of remarkable experience and one of the most amazing -- i mean most amazing experience i've had as an actor and it just takes a bit of breath, i think and i'm just enjoying kind of opening the film and showing it to people and i feel like there's still so much to say
about it, you know, that it's not -- like another one of the films that you open and you get sort of tired of can conversation about it. it's something that i think really does still inform me. >> rose: thank you for coming. pleasure to have you. a remarkable collection of actors and i'm looking for a card that will tell me when it opens on friday, october 18. october 18. congratulations, all of you. >> thank you very much. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> the following kqed production was produced in high definition. [ ♪music ] >> it's all about licking your plate. >> the food was just fabulous. >> i should be in psychoanalysis for the amount of money i spend in restaurants. >> i had a horrible experience. >> i don't even think we were in the same restauran